UFC Minneapolis: Formiga vs. Benavidez – What’s at stake
This weekends UFC event has very important implications for one of the divisions being represented on the pretty stacked card. In this piece we will dive into what those implications are and why they matter.
The match up I alluded to just a moment ago is the flyweight co-main event between Jussier Formiga and Joseph Benavidez.
With these two warriors set to battle it out in the evenings penultimate bout, one question has been on my mind constantly. Will the winner fight the newly crowned Champ Champ Henry Cejudo, or will the flyweight title be held hostage by the self proclaimed “Triple C”?
With talks of Cejudo wanting to fight everyone from Urijah Faber, to Vasyl Lomachenko, who, let’s not forget, is a boxer, we haven’t been given much clarity on when, or even if Cejudo might defend his 125lb crown, other than Dana White saying that he believes Cejudo is capable of defending both belts.
Going into this weekend, one thing is clear: these two men need to put on one heck of a show. What’s at stake here is the flyweight division as a whole. Even though Dana White claimed that the flyweights are “safe,” he also said that Jon Jones would never main event again, that women would never fight in the UFC, and that Cris Cyborg looked like Wanderlei Silva in a dress and heels to name a few things, so you see that not everything he says can be taken at face value.
Now, I don’t feel as if the flyweight division would be dissolved if they put on anything less than stellar performance, but the interest in the division that was dead in the water just a few short months ago will continue to wane, and perhaps may never recover. Even during the historic and completely unprecedented reign of arguably the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, Demetrius Johnson, the division didn’t have the drawing power that other divisions had, and the UFC had trouble, or were just uninterested in marketing new talents at 125.
With that being said, the landscape has changed at flyweight with Cejudo at the top. His level of charisma, excitement, and willingness to move up in weight is something that DJ simply didn’t offer, and considering that this match up will feature the last man to defeat Cejudo (Benavidez), it has the potential to set up a showdown that the fans truly want to see — bringing a new level of attention to a division that has been starved of it for years.
I know that you’re going to want a prediction from me, which I will happily oblige at the bottom of this piece, but before I do I’m going to share with you what I hope happens.
I have no rooting interest in this bout, I like both guys and I’m actually a little sour that one has to lose. But regardless of the winner, I’m hoping for an absolute barn burner of a fight with peak emotional connection from the fans. Regardless of the winner, if they’re coming off an extremely exciting performance in prime time, it will be hard not to promote a 125lb title fight between the winner and Cejudo.
Take this assessment as you will, but mark my words, for better or worse, the UFC’s flyweight division will never be the same after this weekends card.
Joseph Benavidez via Split Decision
Author: Joshua Sloan (@heyitsmma)
Passionate MMA writer and personality, host of the Tony Takedown Challenge.